France to provide extra €20 billion to companies hit by lockdown

The French government could provide up to €20 billion in fresh capital to help companies hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

France to provide extra €20 billion to companies hit by lockdown
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

“We have decided to put €20 billion into a special (state) fund in order to be able to support all those companies which might need it,” Le Maire said on Europe 1 radio.

The funds will be included in a new budget plan due to be submitted to ministers next week.

READ ALSO Will Macron be able to reawaken the sleeping French economy once lockdown ends?

France, like all its peers, is struggling to limit the damage to its economy caused by a strict coronavirus lockdown which is likely to be extended by at least two weeks to the end of April.

“As regards Air France, we are ready, when the time comes… to intervene,” Le Maire said.

Separately, the head of automaker Renault, Jean-Dominique Senard, said his company would hope to get state guaranteed bank loans worth four to five billion euros to help it through the crisis.

“We are working on ideas for bank loans which will be guaranteed by the state and which, one day or another, would be repaid, that is we would not weigh on the state's finances,” Senard told RTL radio.

“I am absolutely certain that that should allow us to get through this difficult period,” he added.

Asked about the amount, Senard said any loans were likely to be around that size but stressed it was too early to talk numbers.

Senard also ruled out any prospect of renationalising Renault, in which the French government holds a 15 percent stake.

Member comments

  1. When one reads what France is doing for it’s people in such difficult times and what the UK is doing. It makes one proud to be French.

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Who is the Czech billionaire who has saved left-leaning French newspaper Libération?

He owns the 18th-century Chateau du Marais, has stakes in supermarket Casino and Fnac stores, part owns Le Monde and has now rescued France's left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation.

Who is the Czech billionaire who has saved left-leaning French newspaper Libération?

The Czech billionaire businessman Daniel Kretinsky agreed to finance the loss-making French left-leaning daily Libération until it breaks even, according to the paper’s owners on Tuesday.

The billionaire agreed to lend €14 million to Libération to guarantee “the financing of the title until its return to equilibrium” in 2026.

So who is Kretinsky and what else does he own in France?

Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky gives a speech during the 13th “Rencontres de l’Udecam” in Paris on September 5, 2019.  (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Other French media: Prior to Libération, Kretinsky had already heavily invested in French media as owner of Elle magazine and part-owner of the daily Le Monde. Kretinsky’s foundation will also inject €1 million into the Fund for the Support of Independent Media (FDPI), the majority-owners of Liberation, according to an internal announcement made by Liberation’s Managing Director Denis Olivennes.

Tuesday’s statement quoted Kretinsky as saying he was “happy to participate in this way to the continued existence of an independent newspaper that is essential to democratic debate”.

Retail chains – Kretinsky’s high-profile investments in France include minority stakes in the convenience store and online retailer Casino, as well as in the electronics, books and media group Fnac Darty.

An 18th century castle – His last big acquisition in France was the historic 18th-century Chateau du Marais castle outside Paris, adding a luxury hotel project to his existing French media and retailing empire.

Kretinsky is 47 years old, and has a net worth of approximately €5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.